I saw a tweet from @TimetoChange about #TimetoTalkDay.
I mulled it over.
I wondered if I would have anything to contribute to the conversation. What words could I contribute to the issue of Mental Health? I wasn’t sure that there was much I could say and I was afraid that I would be stood like a lemon listening to a conversation, desperately trying to say something worthwhile, but experiencing that awful, slow realisation that I had nothing in common with the other participants.
Nothing to contribute to the conversation.
It really annoyed me this thought that I wouldn’t be able to contribute. That I had no voice. That I was worthless.
Then it dawned on me that this is exactly how some individuals with mental health issues must feel. Frustrated, angry, sad, alone, worthless. I feel a mix of these things when my kids have ignored my pleas for them to clean their teeth for the umpteenth time in the morning. But. That is a fleeting feeling. It doesn’t accompany me through my day. It doesn’t determine where I go, who I see, how I behave (after the inevitable shouty five minutes of course). It doesn’t affect my sleep or my appetite.
The more I mulled over the tweet the more I realised that actually this is exactly why I should, and how I could, contribute to the conversation. I may not be able to speak first hand about mental illness and so, maybe my contribution is to acknowledge others, and encourage you to acknowledge others. To show empathy. To listen.
Show that even if you can’t speak about your own experiences, you can allow someone else to. You can listen. You can provide a cup of tea and a biscuit. You can pass a tissue or give a hug. You can be the person that can help to make a difference.
Talking, having a voice, contributing, empathising, caring, listening, understanding. This is how we can all make a positive difference to the mental health of our friends, family or even strangers. Giving others the time and space to heal simply by listening. Giving others the time to talk.
That’s the rub though isn’t it? When you start listening to someone else, start engaging and connecting with human beings, you never know where that will take you. Where the listening turns into conversation, discussion, mutual self-help. It could be the best thing you do. It could make you realise how your own situation needs to change, or maybe you’ll realise how lucky you are. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll start talking too.
So on this Time to Talk Day, I urge you to get involved, and even if you think that you have nothing worthwhile to contribute, you do. You can start in the easiest way possible, by listening.
Everyone has a voice.
Everyone has value.
Everyone deserves positive mental health.
Put the kettle on, I’m coming round…
Disclaimer: No money or product was exchanged for this post, and all opinions and ideas expressed are my own. The post ‘Time to Talk’ originally appeared on LifeofRyrie.com.